Many of my poet friends have been digging deep inside their psyches for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to write something that feels scary or uncomfortable to say. I, however, have been digging deep inside the (imagined) psyche of someone who finds otters scary or uncomfortable to be around. For some reason it sounds like a very bad pastiche of Wordsworth in there. Who knew.
The Lutraphobia Of The Wild Swimmer
I have oft-times swum delighted in the Tyne’s electric cool
and wild waters, in the summer eves by Corbridge. I have
eschewed pools municipal, those crowded echo-chambers,
named them no better than aquaria, where captive mustelids
might twirl in Perspex tanks, to the cooing of the crowd,
their stank spray festering the public air as rank as rotten fish.
Those same aquatic weasels now have barred me from my bliss,
ruined all my joy in open water. I cannot quite say when
the fear of them first grew upon me, cannot pinch the moment
their smiling faces first shaded with malice in my eyes,
but now the chance whisk of waterweed at my floating wrist
casts trembles through my traitor limbs as, unbidden,
images of hairy muzzles poised to claim my fingers,
to crunch needle-sharp through knuckles, darkens my vision.
Too often I have seen, or thought I saw, these denizens
slink from their sandy caves in the twilight, so now, alas!
the o’ershadowing doom descends upon me, and I seek
in swelling terror for paw print or foul spraint here
upon my favoured shore, as a man obsessed by contagion,
and though my mouth forms, faint-hearted, a continual ‘O’,
never can I bring myself to audibly utter the now-abhorred
name of my tormentor, the dreadful title – OTTER!